Canadian GP faces protest

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The Independent Online

Jenson Button set the pace on an inconclusive first day of practice for the Monaco Grand Prix yesterday, as rain during the afternoon session rendered lap times academic and frustrated attempts to find the elusive sweet spot on Pirelli's tyres. However, a shadow loomed as politics threatened to disrupt the Canadian Grand Prix next month.

Quebec's influential La Presse newspaper reported yesterday that students plan to hold protests against the race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal as part of a campaign against a planned increase in university fees of 75 per cent over the next five years.

Protests have become increasingly violent following a hardline refusal by the Liberal government to negotiate over the controversial Bill 78 passed on 18 May, which gave them emergency powers prohibiting freedom of assembly and the right to protest or picket on or close to university campuses without approval from local police. It also denies educational employees' the right to strike.

Student bodies have threatened a "weekend of disruption", with a view to having the race cancelled, claiming that it espouses "sexist, non-environmental and elitist values".